Terrence Franklin Recognized with Chambers and Partners Diversity & Inclusion Lifetime Achievement Award
LOS ANGELES (June 17, 2021) – Terrence Franklin, Partner at Sacks, Glazier, Franklin & Lodise LLP, has received the prestigious “Lifetime Achievement Award” from Chambers and Partners as part of the 2021 Diversity & Inclusion Awards: North America. As the sole recipient of the 2021 award, Franklin was honored for his extensive efforts and accomplishments in furthering the advancement of diversity and inclusion in the legal community. Chambers Diversity & Inclusion Awards were announced during a virtual ceremony on June 17; view Franklin’s acceptance speech here.
“Thank you Chambers and Partners for this honor. It is humbling to know that work that is an organic part of my life has been seen, appreciated and recognized as worthy of acknowledgement,” Franklin said.
Franklin practiced trusts and estates litigation for nearly 25 years before he discovered that his legal career was the path to his mission in life – to “Help Bend the Arc of History Towards Justice” by sharing the story of his family’s experience escaping from slavery, nearly two decades before the end of the Civil War. In dozens of presentations throughout the U.S., media interviews and articles, Franklin retraced his journey to uncover his fourth great-grandfather’s will, and the unexpected will contest that threatened to keep his family enslaved. When Franklin ends his story, he references the notion that he first heard paraphrased by fellow Harvard Law School alum Barack Obama, attributed to a Unitarian minister and abolitionist in a sermon from 1853: “The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” From Franklin’s experiences, he realized that he may have descendants who may look back at him and wonder what he did to deal with oppression, and to make the world a more inclusive place. To help bend the arc of history towards justice, Franklin’s goal is to widely educate others, and push back against dehumanization and racism.
In just the past year, as Chair of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel’s (ACTEC) Diversity, Equity & Inclusivity Committee, Franklin worked with fellow Committee members to request that The ACTEC Foundation approve an emergency request for a grant from The Commons Law Center in North/Northeast Portland, Oregon. The grant funded a 2020 Black law school graduate to work in trusts and estates part-time over eight months to allow for the expansion of the Commons’ Homeownership Asset Preservation Program, which helps low-income communities and communities of color to obtain essential estate planning services. The hope is that the position will also create a pipeline for other lawyers of color who can serve the African American community and the Oregon Bar in general as practicing estate planning attorneys. Franklin is currently working to replicate this program in other jurisdictions across the country.
Franklin also led efforts for ACTEC to adopt a Statement Condemning Racism following the murder of George Floyd, and the attendant civil unrest. He initiated the process to generate a Statement making clear ACTEC’s position and commitment to renounce racism in all its forms that was recommended to the Executive Committee and approved on behalf of ACTEC.
Additionally, Franklin helped to develop, and was then tapped to host, ACTEC’s new video series “Planning for a Diverse and Equitable Future,” which examines the role of trusts and estates in addressing issues of diversity and inclusion in America. The series was created as a project of ACTEC’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusivity Committee, funded by The ACTEC Foundation, and will continue throughout 2021 featuring new guests and topics each month. Franklin served as the featured guest in the series’ third video, “Wills, Slavery and Probate –The Legacy of Lucy Sutton.”
The above has fueled other creative endeavors which serve to spread Franklin’s message of the value of diversity and inclusion. He is the cowriter of the screenplay SICK!, which follows the fight of Barbara Gittings to remove homosexuality from the American Psychiatric Association’s list of mental illnesses; authored a memoir manuscript with editor Alan Rinzler, titled “An Arc Bender’s Journal”; launched his own podcast, “The Last Will of Lucy Sutton” and regularly writes about and shares information about the journey to discover his ancestry on his website www.lucysutton.com. Franklin has also served on the Board of Directors of Outfest since 2014 (including two years as Co-President) to promote the work of LGBTQ filmmakers and storytellers, and is a frequent contributor to Advocate magazine, a leading source for LGBTQ news and commentary.
Franklin’s impactful work within the diversity and inclusion space has been lauded by business and legal organizations, including: “Most Influential Minority Attorneys,” and “Leaders of Influence: Litigators & Trial Lawyers,” Los Angeles Business Journal; “Top 100,” The National Black Lawyers; Law360’s Minority Powerbrokers; and “Black History Month 2019 Honoree,” Los Angeles County Bar Association.
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